My Life on the Roads, Gloria!

I recently completed reading an amazing book entitled, My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem. Widely applauded by the literary community, this book reignited my memories of the seventies and eighties at a time when the world seemed upside down in many ways.  Gloria touched upon the importance of meeting with people from many walks of life and truly listening to what they have to say.  My life on the road can be told in modern day tales of urban Austin.  I started driving for Lyft, an on-demand transport company much like taxis and I’m seeing Austin in a new way after living here for over thirty years! The people I come in contact with are from all over globe as well as university dwellers.  From the young lady nervous to meet her date downtown for the first time, to the gentleman from East Africa meeting friends at the Arab Cowboy, and everyone in between, there are some great stories out there, and I’m trying my best to listen to them!  Stories can be spun practically every day!

                          Taxi Tales     

                             And Zhees Is Why I Quit Frahnce

Passenger: Ze Froinch do not appreciate even a thirty five hour work week! Zhey do not understand the meaning of passion for a project. Americanz have zhair projects and zhey enjoy working on zhem, even if it means working for many, many, hours!

Driver: The French are protesting now in the streets of Paris and other cities because of dissatisfaction with the economy. I read that metro stations are closing.

P: Yes, zhe people of France protest everysing,  all zhe time; zhis is not unusual for zhe Froinch people.

D: Why do you think this is?

P: Zhe Froinch complain about EVERYTHING—zhey are malcontents, if you know zhis word. So much of their time is wasted doing this…Zhey need hobbies, projects!

D: Yes, I think I hear what you are saying…no one is ever satisfied.

P: Exactly! And zhees is why I quit Frahnce!

****** ***** ****** ****** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** **** *****

                                     Box Number Five

(Passenger picked up from veterinary office, weeping in back seat.)

Passenger: Sorry to be such a mess….my cat just died….

Driver: Oh gosh, sorry to hear that…. Losing a pet is never easy, for sure. Help yourself to the Kleenex back there.

P: The doctor said that once the kidneys start shutting down, there’s not a lot that can be done. I tried giving her people medicine that he prescribed, but it was just too much…

D: I hope you can take the rest of the day off and just take care of yourself.

P: Yes, I have today and tomorrow off. Monday I need to go back and pick up her ashes.

D: Oh! You keep those? I suppose you could sprinkle them beneath her favorite tree….

P: No, I keep the ashes of all my pets that have passed away. This will be box number five…

**** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *

                                            I Might Be….

(Passenger picked up in tears from local restaurant at ten a.m.)

Driver: Hi, sorry your day has started off in a not- so -positive way. Help yourself to the Kleenex back there.

Passenger: Thank you…I went to work this morning, but I just started having…you know..sort of a nervous break down…My boss told me to just go home….Now I’m worried I may lose my job…

D: I think most restaurant owners know that people get sick and need to take some time.

P: Yes, I’m hoping she meant go home to get better, not go home we don’t need you any more….

D: Me too…

P: It’s just that I get shaky, and I think I’m depressed.

D: Sounds like you’re pretty sick. You might need to get to a doctor.

P: My boyfriend just lost his job recently. He’s sick a lot too.

D: That sounds like it could be a lot of different things, even your apartment might be making you sick.

(Pause)

P: Actually, I think I might be an alcoholic…

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

                               Conversation Overtime

Driver: (Not recognizing address) Good evening! Where are you off to?

Passenger: The Arab Cowboy near campus.

D: Sounds like fun. Are you from Austin?

P: No, I was born in East Africa, and have moved to Minneapolis, Chicago, Memphis, and many other places.

D: How do you like Austin?

P: I like Austin, it’s just that Americans are not very friendly people, no matter where I go.

D: Hmm…that’s not a good thing to hear…do you mean it’s hard to make friends?

P: That and it seems people don’t have a good feeling about Africans. I come from a country rich in traditions where people value other people. What do you think about Africans?

D: I have only met warm, friendly people from Africa. One of my best friends at Indiana University was Josephine from Liberia. But in general, having darker skin in America has made things harder, not easier. That, I HOPE is beginning to change.

P: I work for Facebook, which is a tool for keeping people connected, but it seems the American people do not have strong connections to family in some cases, or strong ties to cultural traditions.

D: Well, America is a young country compared to Africa and Europe! But I see what you are saying, and I somewhat agree. Many of the traditions, even in my own family, are religion based and some family members may not continue to celebrate in the same way as we, their parents, have. Their belief system has changed. Their traditions will be their own.

P: Yes, well I cannot seem to break into the American culture at all to make my way! I would like to be able to make a good living, but the avenues open to me seem to be very limited.

D: College degrees provide some inroads, but more and more it helps to know people.

P: Yes, and the people I meet do not seem interested in me.

D: That can be tough. I can only encourage you to keep trying! You’re great to talk to!

P: Well, thank you very much.

D: OH! I have circled this block twice now. Sorry to delay getting you to your destination, but our conversation has been so interesting!

P: Thank you! Don’t worry about the delay. I feel very happy for this time to speak with you. May I have your card?

D: I don’t have one. Drivers are not allowed to share info with riders. Sorry. But have a great evening!

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ****

                                   One Year Sabbatical

Driver: (Not recognizing address) Good afternoon! Where are you two off to?

Passenger 1: To the post office please! My parents have sent a package for me from Switzerland!

Passenger 2: We are both attorneys from Switzerland.

D: Welcome to Austin! Are you working here?

P1: No, we are auditing law classes at the University of Texas for one year.

P2: Taking a bit of a sabbatical.

D: What kind of law are you involved in?

P2: Banking law

D: That sounds like it would be REALLY interesting in Switzerland!

P1: Not so much. People with a lot of money feel so entitled. We are merely their puppets.

P2: Plus things are changing now…

D: I know that drug lords in the movie Narcos were funneling a lot of drug money that way at one time.

P2: We don’t make judgements about the money, we just help make decisions about how to invest it.

D: Wait, you mean you never really know where all that money comes from that shows up in Swiss banks?

P2: That is not our business. Now we see that the United States government is putting limitations and stipulations on accounts held in our banks, so we may need to understand more about where the money is actually coming from.

D: That could get pretty tricky, I suppose. Maybe even deadly.

P1: Those bankers who are unable to remove themselves from the old system of keeping blindfolds on are being sent off “to think about it” for awhile.

D: Yeah, there’s a lot to think about, I guess. Even, “Do I want to be in this business any more?”

P2: Exactly. Those with consciences may find it too hard ….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s